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Illinois-FAU will be a historic matchup

The start of something new.

The Champaign Room - Brad

There aren’t too many teams the Illini have never faced.

The Florida Atlantic Owls just happen to be one of them.

Saturday in Champaign will be the first time these two programs ever square off against each other.

Historically, these are two very different football teams.

Their first seasons as programs were a little more than 110 years apart. Despite that, FAU has already played in over a fourth the amount of bowl games that the Illini have.

However, Illinois has the upper hand in claimed national titles which is what really matters (5 to 0).

Florida Atlantic’s first year as a program came during the most recent Big Ten title for the Fighting Illini. 2001 is a very memorable year for both of these teams.

A game in Boca Raton would’ve been a scorcher, so it’s only fitting that Saturday could be the hottest game Illinois plays in all year.

“One of the things we’ve talked about all week is that Saturday is supposed to be about 85 and sunny, one of the hottest days we probably could play under,” said head coach Bret Bielema.

With game time looking to be 82 degrees and clear skies, the Owls will feel right at home in their first ever visit to Memorial Stadium.

According to coach Bielema, Wednesday’s practice was hotter than expected which will be good preparation ahead of Saturday’s weather. Thursday saw rain and lightning but Illinois was able to spread out each unit’s drills in order to carry out practice as usual.

“We got a full practice but everything was inside here and we kind of simulated as best we could to get the weather we’re gonna get on Saturday,” Bielema said.

In their last non-conference game of the season, the Illini will look to start off this all-time series with a perfect record as kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT in Champaign.